Thursday, June 21, 2007

Number Two at DOJ . . . But Out of the Loop

Marty Lederman

Remember how the Attorney General's pricnipal defense of the U.S. Attorney firings was that he relied on the judgment of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty? Well, McNulty is now tesifying before the House Judiciary Committee. I've only seen a few minutes of it, but what's really striking are two things:

1. McNulty had nothing to do with the creation of the "list," and doesn't have much knowledge of how it was created or why the particular U.S. Attorneys were placed on it -- other than that Kyle Sampson put it together "based on conversations he had" with some unknown "people." McNulty was given the opportunity at the eleventh hour to object to names on the list, and he did object to a couple of names (one of which was removed). But apparently Gonzales and McNulty finally signed off on Kyle Sampson's list -- and made the solemn decision of removing U.S. Attorneys -- without much knowledge of why they were on the list, how they got there, or why they were removed.

2. Recall that in March 2006, the Attorney General issued an order transferring to Kyle Sampson and the White House liason the authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department -- an authority that had traditionally been exercised by the Deputy AG and Associate AG. McNulty confimed today that not only was he cut out of the loop on employment decisions, but that he also was not even informed that his responsibilities had been delegated to Sampson and Goodling. He found out about it, as the rest of us did, several weeks ago in Murry Waas' article, more than a year after it happened.

Earlier I wrote that "it would be interesting to learn whether Paul McNulty knew about this delegation -- and what he thinks about the emasculation of the traditional role of the DAG's Office in making sure that DOJ hires are marked by a minimum level of professionalism." McNulty testified that he was surprised and concerned by the fact that he was intentionally bypassed in a process that would ordinarily have required his recommendation -- but as far as I know (again, I've missed most of the hearing) he has resisted any criticism of what occured.

UPDATE: Paul Kiel has more along the same lines -- with links to video of the testimony.


Comparing McNulty's testimony to Gonzales'reminds me of the old cartoons in which someone asks two characters standing by the road for directions. Each one points in the opposite direction.

Oh, give me a break. He had a major part of his responsibilities curtailed and he didn't notice for a year? He never knew until he read it in the newspaper. How stupid is this guy? And how stupid does he think the senators are?

What the hell was he doing for a year if he wasn't paying attention to his job? Surely he saw some new faces every once in a while. Where did he think they came from? He lost say so on hiring and firing his own staff and didn't know it. He is either on crack or narcoleptic.

Can anyone identify the crime that was committed in the firings of the attorneys?

--Jack Payne

Mr. Payne,

It seems like some sort of high crime, but we may never know, because nobody did it and no one remembers how it happened.

Can anyone identify the crime that was committed in the firings of the attorneys?

--Jack Payne

# posted by jackpayne : 5:52 PM

Be patient. Sit back and watch the revelations based upon the evidence being gathered and developed by Congress. When you begin to see how thoroughly and widespread the deliberate subversion of the system of laws for Republican party ends has been, you'll also begin to see some Republicans in Congress cease talking about "patterns" in the Democrats' investigative actions. Cease talking about "patterns" altogether, in order that such Republicans continue their pattern of ostrichism.

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